In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Jackson Hole News & Guide
- Dozens of long-term tenants have been forced out of a dilapidated motel on North Cache Street because the building was deemed unsafe by the owner, the Bank of Jackson Hole.
Residents of the Pioneer Motel reported regular power outages and, at times, no running water. The bank had been warning people for months that they would have to move soon because of the motel’s condition. Chief Executive Pete Lawton said there were a variety of code violations. “It’s truly a safety issue,” Lawton said.
Social workers from the Community Resource Center helped some of the displaced people over the past few weeks and said the motel was potentially dangerous for tenants. “A lot of them didn’t have electricity,” said Carmina Oaks, a case manager with the nonprofit. “Some of them were telling me they had holes in the floor. Others didn’t get water all the time.”
The tenants, who were all Latino, have been scrambling to find places to stay. Some landed with family members, Oaks said, while others found rooms in other motels.
The Pioneer, which was built in 1958, has 25 units spread out through several buildings and is located just blocks from upscale hotels and Jackson’s historic Town Square. Some of the motel rooms have broken window panes that are covered with plastic.
While the conditions weren’t ideal, some tenants said they didn’t mind the motel because of the low rent. And given Jackson Hole’s housing shortage, it at least offered a roof to sleep under.
Former tenants of the Pioneer Motel are just the latest casualties in Jackson Hole’s housing shortage. Earlier this year residents of a downtown trailer park were given short notice to move because of the impending development of a 121-room Marriott Hotel. Another cluster of mobile homes was cleared [...] to make way for new apartments, which will rent for an estimated $1,800 a month.
The fate of the Pioneer Motel remains uncertain. The bank owns the property and several nearby parcels because of a 2013 foreclosure. Lawton pointed out that the bank never set out to be a landlord or developer. The property is under contract, but uncertainties about zoning have made it difficult to close a deal in the past, Lawton said. The Jackson Town Council has gone back and forth debating new zoning rules, and housing has been at the crux of the issue. Town officials have butted heads with each other and community organizations about how much more commercial development should be allowed versus housing.
Unsure of the motel’s future, bank officials warned tenants several times over the past few months that they might soon have to leave. The Community Resource Center distributed a list to tenants in September listing other motels around the valley that had openings. That gave some people a chance to relocate, but Oaks said many of the motel rentals around town only last through the spring. People may soon have to look for housing again.